On December 6, U.S. President Donald Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and committed to moving the U.S. Embassy to the holy city from Tel Aviv. "My announcement today marks the beginning of a new approach to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians," President Trump said. The final status of Jerusalem has been a sensitive issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel gained control of East Jerusalem during the 1967 war, but Palestinians hope it will be the capital of a future Palestinian state. Trump stipulated that his decision was not intended to influence the final borders of either state, but the move sparked outrage and protests in Iran and across the Muslim world. The following are excerpted reactions to President Trump's statement, which can be found at the bottom.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei
“Their announcement of Quds [Jerusalem] as the capital of Occupied Palestine [Israel] proves their incompetence and failure. In regards to Palestine, they are helpless and unable to achieve their goals. Victory is for the Islamic nation. Palestine will be free, and the Palestinian people will be victorious.”
“The modern-day pharaoh is represented by the US, the Zionist regime and their accomplices in the region, who seek to create wars in our region, and this is plotted by the US.”
“Today, some enemies and individuals line up against the Islamic nation and the path of the Prophet [Muhammad].”
“We have no conflict with Islamic nations. We seek unity. But in response to this willingness to forge unity, there are some who seek a war and their policies are based on war. In response, we admonish [them]; we use a language of advice; we rely on admonition. The destiny of the approach that some governments in the region take, as noted in the Quran, will be self-destructive.”
― Dec. 6, 2017, speaking at the 31st International Conference on Islamic Unity in Tehran
“The issue of Palestine today is at the top of the political issues for Muslims and everyone is obligated to work and struggle for the freedom and salvation of the people of Palestine,”
“On the issue of Palestine, (U.S.) hands are tied and they cannot advance their goals,”
“American government officials have said themselves that we have to start a war in the region to protect the security of the Zionist regime (Israel).”
“Whatever America wants, they’ll [Saudi Arabia] work against Islam to accomplish it.”
― Dec. 6, 2017, speaking at the 31st International Conference on Islamic Unity in Tehran
“The language we use with the followers of America in the region, is the language of advice…we advise them that serving the wrongdoers of the world is to their disadvantage and as the Koran has commanded, partnering with wrongdoers has no future other than annihilation.”
― Dec. 6, 2017, speaking to Iranian and foreign representatives at the 31st International Conference on Islamic unity in Tehran
“The Muslim world would undoubtedly stand against this conspiracy and the Zionists will be dealt a heavy blow with this move and dear Palestine will at last be liberated without doubt.”
― Dec. 6, 2017, speaking to Iranian and foreign representatives at the 31st International Conference on Islamic unity in Tehran
Today the "Pharaoh" is a combination of the U.S., the Zionist regime, and their followers who want to stage wars in the region: this is a U.S. plot. U.S. officials have said: "we should stage wars, in this region, to protect the Zionist regime's security."— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) December 6, 2017
It is out of despair & debility that they want to declare #AlQuds as capital of the Zionist regime. On issue of #Palestine their hands are tied & they can't achieve their goals. Victory belongs to Islamic Ummah. Palestine will be free, Palestinian nation will achieve victory.— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) December 6, 2017
Today, the enemies and others have lined up against the Islamic Ummah and the Prophet of Islam's path: US, global arrogance, Zionist regime, as well as reactionaries and hedonistic figures among the Islamic Ummah.— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) December 6, 2017
President Hassan Rouhani
“Today, the enemies have launched a new conspiracy against the Muslims and have targeted the great goal of the liberation of the Holy Quds,”
“The Holy Quds belongs to Muslims and Palestinians, and it is not a place in which anyone can stand against the thoughts and feelings of the people. This is a new adventure of the 'global arrogance' in the region.”
“Although the Islamic Republic of Iran has responded to the call by the nations [seeking its aid] by supporting them, and wants to resolve problems through negotiation and has never agreed to changes in the borders in the region, it will not tolerate aggression against Islamic sanctities.”
— Dec. 6, 2017, in a meeting at the 31st International Conference on Islamic Unity
“Islamic countries and all the free countries of the world must act quickly against Washington's move … to stop them.”
“We believe that in the current situation, all Islamic countries must be united and unanimous against his incorrect, illegal, provocative and very dangerous decision by the United States and take a serious action”.
"Today, one of the priorities of the World of Islam is the Palestinian issue, the Quds and confronting incorrect actions of the Zionist regime. We invite all Islamic and peace-seeking nations of the world to stand up against these illegal acts."
“Of course, the Zionist Regime is directly responsible for all instability and insecurity."
— Dec. 6, 2017, in a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
"In this situation and as the first step, all Palestinian movements must preserve unity to stand up firmly against the Zionist regime and the U.S., and as the next step, the Muslim world must stand up against this conspiracy unanimously."
"We are proud of the great Palestinian nation for their resistance and sacrifice against the Zionist enemy, and we are sure the new intifada will continue to tread the right path to safeguard the Palestinian people's rights."
— Dec. 11, 2017, in a phone call with Hamas' Political Bureau Chief Ismail Haniyeh, according to Iran Front Page News
"The situation we are experiencing today is very important, because Jerusalem al-Quds is a holy city for Muslims as well as Christians and Jews."
"The wrong decision of the U.S. president to relocate the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem al-Quds was a rude decision as Qudds does not only belong to a nation or a geographic region. It is respected by all Muslims in the world and the al-Aqsa mosque is the first kiblah of Muslims."
"The global arrogance and the Zionists want to test how the Muslim world reacts. As you see, from the very moment that this wrong and illegal decision was announced, people in the Muslim world rose to show their anger. From the easternmost parts of Indonesia, to the westernmost regions of Morocco, all Muslims stood up against the move and condemned the act."
"Our message is that the Palestinian cause is the most important issue for the Muslim world. They must condemn this move in all international bodies, particularly the United Nations."
"Over the years, the United States has turned Palestine into the second issue of the region because of the terrorism that it has expanded in the region. Washington was assuming the issue of Palestine is forgotten; therefore they occupied the land of Palestine for seventy years."
— Dec. 12, 2017, in remarks before departing for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation's summit in Istanbul, Turkey, according to Iran Front Page News
The recent decision by the US admin made it clear that the US is only seeking to secure the maximum interests of the Zionists and has no respect for the legitimate rights of Palestinians. The US has never been an honest mediator and will never be. #FreePalestine #OIC— Hassan Rouhani (@HassanRouhani) December 13, 2017
Foreign Minister Javad Zarif
لو أن نصف الأموال التي أنفقتها بعض الحکام في المنطقة لتشجيع الإرهاب والتطرف والطائفية والتحريض ضد الجيران كان ینفق لتحریر فلسطین، لما كنا اليوم نواجه هذا الصلف الأميركي الذي یحاول ان يكرس "وعد من لا يملك لمن لا يستحق" ورغم ذلک، القدس تبقی عربیة اسلامیة، شاء من شاء وابی من ابی.— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) December 6, 2017
Translation: If half of the money that was spent by some governments in the region to encourage terrorism, extremism, sectarianism and incitement against neighbors had been spent on liberating Palestine, then today, we would not be facing this American arrogance, which is trying to devote "the promise of he who doesn't own to those who don't deserve." Nevertheless, Quds remains Arab Islamic, whoever will accept it will accept it and whoever will reject it, will reject it.
Inspired by very high level participation at extraordinary OIC summit, despite handful of telling exceptions. The entire Muslim world stands in solidarity with Palestinians and rejects Trump's gifting of what he does not own to those who have no right to it.— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) December 13, 2017
Major General Mohammad Baqeri, Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces
"Now with the U.S. move on Jerusalem al-Quds, a new and big uprising is imminent."
— Dec. 11, 2017, in an address, according to a report by ISNA via Iran Front Page News
Foreign Ministry Statement on Condemning U.S. Decision on Quds
Jerusalem al-Quds which hosts the first Qibla of Muslims is aninseparable part of Palestine. As one of the three most sacred sites in Islam, it enjoys a highly significant status among the Muslims. It is no secret any more that the Zionist regime has put on its agenda a number of measures to impose its hegemony over Jerusalem al-Quds including forcing the main inhabitants of the city to leave the city, occupying their houses and lands, replacing Muslim population with Jewish people with the aim of changing the demography of the city, destroying sacred Islamic sites and symbols, desecrating Al-Aqsa Mosque by paving the way for extremist settlers to enter the Islamic place, imposing restrictions on Muslims for visiting the mosque and saying their Friday prayer, and violating the citizenship rights of the Palestinians living in the city.
The Islamic Republic of Iran has always emphasized that the main causes behind destabilization and insecurity in the Middle East are continued occupation of the Palestinian lands by theIsraeli regime, the US’ full and all-out support for the Zionist regime, and depriving the oppressed nation of Palestine of their basic rights to establish an independent state for their own with al-Quds as its capital. With the US and its allies’ desperate efforts to impose a compromised solution, the Palestinians have failed to even fulfill their preliminary wishes stipulated in the resolutions by the United Nations Security Council as well as the UN General Assembly. Meanwhile, the continued expansionof settlements, occupation of more Palestinian lands and desecration of religious sites by Israeli regime which are carried out with the direct support of the US amid the indifference of international organization, all in all have hampered thePalestinians’ drive to achieve their rightful and legal demands.
The imprudent and provocative decision of the US to recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as the capital of the Zionist regime not only does not at all contribute to peace and stability in the region but also reveals the nasty intentions of the US administration and further discredits the US before those who still have confidence in the neutrality of Washington in the mirage-like trend of peace talks. Meanwhile, the decision will also create outrage among Muslims and fan the flames of a new Intifada, extremist moves,violence and brutality. It goes without saying that the US and the Zionist regime are responsible for the upcoming results.
Given the fact that Jerusalem al-Quds is recognized as an occupied land by the UN resolutions, the US move is in stark violation of the international resolutions. So, the Islamic Republic of Iran strongly condemns the US decision and calls on the international community and leading states particularly the Islamic countries to step into the fray and stop the implementation of the US decision because it only serves the Zionist regime’s interests.
Meanwhile, the Islamic Republic of Iran expresses its full sympathy with the Palestinian people and once again underlinesthe main responsibility of the international community,particularly the UN, to put an end to the occupation of the Palestinian territories and the holy Quds and contribute to the Palestinians’ efforts to achieve their basic rights.
— Dec. 12, 2017, in a statement
Statement by Iran's Parliament
“By this sinister and unwarranted move, the US government has quashed the last remaining hope of some Arab leaders about the prospect of negotiations and the two-state solution.”
“The occupying regime of Israel knows that such foolish acts by the US government will not make any change in the situation of al-Quds.”
“The Palestinian people and advocates of liberty and freedom across the world will now become more resolute and united than ever for the liberation of Jerusalem and the land of Palestine.”
“The Parliament of the Islamic Republic of Iran calls on all pro-Palestinian and pro-liberty nations, all Arab and Islamic countries, to condemn the US measure, defend the legitimate right of the Palestinian people, and declare one day of public mourning and fly their flags at half-staff in all Islamic countries.”
— Dec. 7, 2017, in a statement
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)
The cheap and foolish move of the US president to recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as the capital of the fake and child-killing regime of Zionists amounts to a great sedition designed against the Islamic Ummah with the aim of violating the rights of Palestinians. Now the Islamic world and other freedom and truth-seeking societies are duty-bound to thwart the nasty and satanic plots of the enemies through adopting decisive and prudent stances.
It goes without saying that the filthy attempt by the US president will not only fail to translate into reality the dreams of the White House officials and the International Zionism, it will also make the anti-Zionist resistance front further determined to achieve the cause of liberating the holy Quds and set in fire the occupiers of Palestine by its burning revenge.
The IRGC invites Iranians from all walks of life to participate in large numbers in the nation-wide rallies against the US and the Zionism on Friday following noon prayers.
The Palestinian Intifada will continue in the new phase with a higher speed with the all-out support of the Islamic Ummah and the world’s anti-arrogance and freedom-seekers individuals. The intifada will unveil the scandalous face of the Great Satan’s strategies and policies in the region. With the divine blessing of the great lord, it will also put an immediate end to the criminal regime of Zionists and remove the cancerous tumor of the Zionism from the body of the Islamic world.
— Dec. 7, 2017, in a statement, according to Iran Front Page News
U.S. President Donald Trump
Thank you. When I came into office, I promised to look at the world’s challenges with open eyes and very fresh thinking. We cannot solve our problems by making the same failed assumptions and repeating the same failed strategies of the past. Old challenges demand new approaches.
My announcement today marks the beginning of a new approach to conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
In 1995, Congress adopted the Jerusalem Embassy Act, urging the federal government to relocate the American embassy to Jerusalem and to recognize that that city -- and so importantly -- is Israel’s capital. This act passed Congress by an overwhelming bipartisan majority and was reaffirmed by a unanimous vote of the Senate only six months ago.
Yet, for over 20 years, every previous American president has exercised the law’s waiver, refusing to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem or to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city.
Presidents issued these waivers under the belief that delaying the recognition of Jerusalem would advance the cause of peace. Some say they lacked courage, but they made their best judgments based on facts as they understood them at the time. Nevertheless, the record is in. After more than two decades of waivers, we are no closer to a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. It would be folly to assume that repeating the exact same formula would now produce a different or better result.
Therefore, I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. Today, I am delivering.
I've judged this course of action to be in the best interests of the United States of America and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. This is a long-overdue step to advance the peace process and to work towards a lasting agreement.
Israel is a sovereign nation with the right like every other sovereign nation to determine its own capital. Acknowledging this as a fact is a necessary condition for achieving peace.
It was 70 years ago that the United States, under President Truman, recognized the State of Israel. Ever since then, Israel has made its capital in the city of Jerusalem -- the capital the Jewish people established in ancient times. Today, Jerusalem is the seat of the modern Israeli government. It is the home of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, as well as the Israeli Supreme Court. It is the location of the official residence of the Prime Minister and the President. It is the headquarters of many government ministries.
For decades, visiting American presidents, secretaries of state, and military leaders have met their Israeli counterparts in Jerusalem, as I did on my trip to Israel earlier this year.
Jerusalem is not just the heart of three great religions, but it is now also the heart of one of the most successful democracies in the world. Over the past seven decades, the Israeli people have built a country where Jews, Muslims, and Christians, and people of all faiths are free to live and worship according to their conscience and according to their beliefs.
Jerusalem is today, and must remain, a place where Jews pray at the Western Wall, where Christians walk the Stations of the Cross, and where Muslims worship at Al-Aqsa Mosque.
However, through all of these years, presidents representing the United States have declined to officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. In fact, we have declined to acknowledge any Israeli capital at all.
But today, we finally acknowledge the obvious: that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. This is nothing more, or less, than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do. It's something that has to be done.
That is why, consistent with the Jerusalem Embassy Act, I am also directing the State Department to begin preparation to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This will immediately begin the process of hiring architects, engineers, and planners, so that a new embassy, when completed, will be a magnificent tribute to peace.
In making these announcements, I also want to make one point very clear: This decision is not intended, in any way, to reflect a departure from our strong commitment to facilitate a lasting peace agreement. We want an agreement that is a great deal for the Israelis and a great deal for the Palestinians. We are not taking a position of any final status issues, including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, or the resolution of contested borders. Those questions are up to the parties involved.
The United States remains deeply committed to helping facilitate a peace agreement that is acceptable to both sides. I intend to do everything in my power to help forge such an agreement. Without question, Jerusalem is one of the most sensitive issues in those talks. The United States would support a two-state solution if agreed to by both sides.
In the meantime, I call on all parties to maintain the status quo at Jerusalem's holy sites, including the Temple Mount, also known as Haram al-Sharif.
Above all, our greatest hope is for peace, the universal yearning in every human soul. With today’s action, I reaffirm my administration’s longstanding commitment to a future of peace and security for the region.
There will, of course, be disagreement and dissent regarding this announcement. But we are confident that ultimately, as we work through these disagreements, we will arrive at a peace and a place far greater in understanding and cooperation.
This sacred city should call forth the best in humanity, lifting our sights to what it is possible; not pulling us back and down to the old fights that have become so totally predictable. Peace is never beyond the grasp of those willing to reach.
So today, we call for calm, for moderation, and for the voices of tolerance to prevail over the purveyors of hate. Our children should inherit our love, not our conflicts.
I repeat the message I delivered at the historic and extraordinary summit in Saudi Arabia earlier this year: The Middle East is a region rich with culture, spirit, and history. Its people are brilliant, proud, and diverse, vibrant and strong. But the incredible future awaiting this region is held at bay by bloodshed, ignorance, and terror.
Vice President Pence will travel to the region in the coming days to reaffirm our commitment to work with partners throughout the Middle East to defeat radicalism that threatens the hopes and dreams of future generations.
It is time for the many who desire peace to expel the extremists from their midst. It is time for all civilized nations, and people, to respond to disagreement with reasoned debate –- not violence.
And it is time for young and moderate voices all across the Middle East to claim for themselves a bright and beautiful future.
So today, let us rededicate ourselves to a path of mutual understanding and respect. Let us rethink old assumptions and open our hearts and minds to possible and possibilities. And finally, I ask the leaders of the region -- political and religious; Israeli and Palestinian; Jewish and Christian and Muslim -- to join us in the noble quest for lasting peace.
Thank you. God bless you. God bless Israel. God bless the Palestinians. And God bless the United States.
― Dec. 6, 2017, in a statement
Photo credits: Dome of the Rock by Berthold Werner (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons